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I Took My Tinder Date to a Porn Theatre for Valentine's Day

Anyone can shit on Valentine’s Day with words. I decided to spend my Valentine’s Day with two of the least romantic things I could think of: porno theatres and Tinder.

Who said romance is dead? Photo by Peter Ryaux-Larsen 

Few things are more contrived and emotionally psychotic than Valentine’s Day. People buy each other material tokens of appreciation not out of love, but because it’s marked on a calendar and drilled into our collective consciousness. Everyone runs around with their heads cut off, desperately comparing themselves to social standards that are designed to commercialize and package their love for profit.

But anyone can shit on Valentine’s Day with words. I decided to spend my Valentine’s Day with two of the least romantic things I could think of: porno theatres and Tinder. To be more specific: I planned to ask a random girl from Tinder to go on a Valentine’s Day date to Cinema L’Amour, Montreal’s notorious adult film theatre.

I've never been in a porn theatre before, but I’ve always been extremely curious. While most people write them off as creepy homeless masturbation chambers, I think they’re shrouded in secrecy and synonymous with sin and forbidden sexuality, like a box with a bow around it saying, "PLEASE DON'T OPEN."

Going to a porn theatre is easy. Finding some random girl on a dating app who’d want to come with me would be difficult. Or at least I thought it would be. After a few days of unfiltered speed swiping on Tinder, I met Dominique (not her real name), a pretty engineering student from McGill. We had a quick pre-Valentine’s meetup, and over a drunken conversation at a burger joint, I popped the question. She burst out laughing. After confirming that I wasn’t joking, and presumably deciding I was definitely not a rapist, she surprisingly agreed. Under two conditions: the movie “can’t have any big black guys and no girl-on-girl action.”

Beggars can’t be choosers, I thought. Luckily, the shows playing on Valentine’s Day were The Teacher’s Pet: Grade A and Breakin' Em' in #16 – Part 2. Neither suggested any scissoring or colossal black penises. I went with The Teacher’s Pet: Grade A because the idea of watching someone “breaking someone in” made my foreskin shrivel.

Before the show, we met at my house around the corner from the theatre, hoping to share a moment of innocent reality and—I don't know—establish some trust. It wasn’t too late for her to back out, and if she had, I wouldn’t have held it against her. But she was all in. As a result, I had a good feeling about the date. Any girl who was willing to go this far out on a limb would probably wind up being pretty cool. I put on some neutral clothing and we set out into the snowy streets of Montreal’s Plateau.

We didn’t talk much on the way to the theatre. When we got there, I put my hand on the door to open it for her and took a deep breath. This was the official point of no return. I knew that whatever was in there, whatever happened, when we came out we'd be different. Was I ready for that?

I pulled the door open and we walked up to the ticket counter.

The highest porn theatre praise, from a satisfied fan.

“2 for The Teacher’s Pet: Grade A please.”

The ticket lady's name was Heather. She appeared to be in her 50s, but who knows what this place might have done to her. Her bloodshot eyes were sunk deep in a sea of wrinkly skin and her scowling facial features were partly obstructed by fraying gray hairs. She eyed me suspiciously as the sound of genitals smacking each other drifted out of the theatre and filled the room.

“$10.50 for you. Free for her.”

Behind her were normal snacks like popcorn and Kit Kats, with handwritten combo deals on a hanging sign. It smelt like stale cigarettes and spray cleaner. Even though the floor was black rubber and there were Porno DVDs lining the left, the place sort of looked exactly like an old movie theatre. For a moment, there was a glimmer of hope in my mind that this could be way more normal than we had expected.

Heather told us sternly that upstairs there were private booths for an extra $35. Dominique and I looked at each other confused.

“Why, is downstairs really bad? What happens down there?”

Heather waved her hands hysterically in the direction of the theatre, “Oh, I know what happens in there. I don’t go in there, but I know.”

Well, weirdness and perversion is what we signed up for, so we figured we might as well get the full experience. Plus, how bad could it really be? Porno theatres are just film theatres that happen to be playing adult movies, right? Sure, maybe you’ve got a few dudes in trench coats lurking by themselves in the corner and perhaps one or two guys rubbing one out quietly in their seat, but if it was worse than that, it wouldn’t be in business. Right?

We decided to stay on the first floor and Heather led us through some red leather doors and into the theatre, explaining that they can also provide a tour of the place as well. She brought us to a section with a white plastic chain on either side.

“Nobody can sit beside you here," she whispered. “Sit anywhere else, and they’ll try.”

There were about a dozen of men scattered around the room, some of them sunken into their chairs with baseball caps drawn and some pacing around ominously. I glanced around the room to create a mental map of the creeps lurking in the shadows. I became painfully aware that my date was the only female in a very sexually charged room. The tension was thick. We took our seats and started to watch the movie.

Suddenly, I noticed the men had slowly started to migrate around our chained off section one by one until we found ourselves surrounded. They had completely converged on us from all sides. The air reeked of piss.

I put my arm around Dominique, not to be romantic, but for some kind of mutual security. She clutched my hand so hard that I could see the whites of my knuckles. I abruptly became very aware of the back of my neck. I turned around as the screen went bright, lighting up the face of a toothless hobo two rows behind us grinning at me. I whipped around and looked to my left, where a guy leaning against the wall gave me a creepy Cheshire cat smile. Nobody was watching the movie. We were the all-you-can-eat buffet for lonely perverts. I didn’t feel unsafe, but I definitely did not want to get jizzed on by a stranger.

I sunk down into my seat and tried to focus on the movie. It appeared that Daisy hadn’t done her homework again, but was willing to work out some kind of arrangement with her teacher Brad. Then came the close-up HD asshole shot. The thing was the size of a giant pulsing monster-truck tire, and they kept zooming in to show how gaping and cavernous it was.

“This is like a fucking sci-fi movie," Dominique whispered in my ear.

We laughed nervously as I glanced around at the walls and ceiling. It was actually really well designed. The place was built in 1914, and the neo-classical interior and terrace wrapping around the second floor was more or less as it must have been a hundred years ago. I wanted to break the tension and share my little observation with Dominique. Then we heard belts unbuckling.

I shot up onto my feet and pulled her out to the lobby to take Heather up on that tour. A forest of heads and hungry eyes turned slowly in the darkness, following us out. We were really glad to see Heather again, and she called for her associate to give us a tour.

“Alex?” She said. “Alex!

Alex crept up to her side and gave us big, creepy grin. He appeared to be Russian and somewhere in his 40s. He had a lazy, foggy eye that drifted around the room as he spoke.

“You guys wanna spend your Valentine’s Day upstairs?”

Before we could answer, he was walking upstairs and we followed as the sound of slapping and over-the-top moaning bounced off the walls. We got to the terrace, and the giant asshole was now being probed with a giant tongue. Alex burst out laughing, which was probably the best response to the whole thing.

“After a while it just gets funny.”

Alex seemed like a good dude and perhaps the only other sane person in the building. He showed us the private booths, which were pretty much a little couch with a curtain around them and an open front to see the screen. He told us about the history of the building and then told us that tomorrow would be a better time to come back, not because of the homeless pervert squad there today, but because Saturdays are busier.

“It’s Valentine's Day. Most people are home with their families.”

He brought us into the old projection room. The room had hooks hanging from the ceiling where the projectionist could hold the reels of film, a TV set from the 80s, a toilet in the corner, and a smell like soggy woodchips. Even though Alex had somewhat won us over, I still kept my distance because getting killed in this room seemed like a vague possibility.

“Why did everyone downstairs surround us?” I asked

“They want something from you. If you come in here and you’re the only couple, they expect a show.”

My temperature rose dramatically. They had been fiending us at a level that went well beyond voyeurism to a form of aggressive entitlement. Their crusted, drooling mouths and steaming ballsweat had been triggered by us simply walking in. The trembling excitement was based on absolute faith that we were going to fuck each other in the theatre, in front of everyone.

“They’re used to it. This girl came in yesterday, blew everyone, and left. Another time a girl just stood up and said, ‘Who wants to go upstairs with me?’ She picked one guy who wouldn't fuck her, so she came back down and got a second guy to do it.”

Dominique couldn’t handle it.

“Who are these girls?” she said.

“Well, they don’t look like you.”

Dominique seemed to be shaken up a bit, but the same confusion and disbelief that held my attention seemed to be holding hers. We went back downstairs and to my horror, I had to pee. There were two doors, one that said MEN and another that said WOMEN ONLY.

“You should come with me.”

“No, no, no, I’ll be fine,” she said, “I’ll go hang out in the lobby with Heather.”

I walked down a dimly lit spiral staircase to the washroom. I had to duck to fit under the low ceiling, and I kept my head on a swivel as I unzipped. Somewhere, a faucet was dripping. When I was done, I hurried up the stairs and stopped in my tracks near the top of the steps as I saw someone’s shoes. I looked up and it was the Cheshire cat guy.

“What is your name?” He said in a stilted accent.

“Stephen.” I squeezed past him.

“I am Laurent. You have a beautiful girl with you.”

“Yeah. I have to go”

“Where are you from?”

“Toronto.”

“I am from Africa. I have been here for nine years. When people come, I like to watch them.”

“OK, nice to meet you.”

What the fuck just happened? I thought. I burst through the door and saw an exceptionally pasty guy in a winter coat trying to talk to Dominique. She grabbed me and we rushed back to the lobby.

“How are you feeling?” I said.

“This place is like a twisted wonderland for perverts.”

At that point most people will have taken the cue from the world of dark fucked-up perversion and hightailed it back to normalcy. But however insane it sounds, we didn't want to leave. I didn’t want to let this place win. Maybe it’s my competitive nature, but I didn’t want to admit to myself that there are some spaces in Montreal and some walks of life that are too much for me. Dominique had a look of determination behind her panicked eyes as well, so without a word, we went back in. We sat at the back, so we could keep track of everyone in front of us. The league of extraordinary shadow lurkers caught wind of our move and started swooping into our area, trying to make eye contact. We warned each other in hysterical whispers.

“Holy shit, yeah, he’s coming over. Fuck. Don't look. OK, no, he’s gone.”

“Yeah, he’s coming back on your left right now, right there. Fuck! I can see his dick!”

We held each other like two hostages as Daisy continued to get pounded by Brad at full volume. Laurent came over and I was about to tell him to back off but all he said was:

“Can I take your picture?”

It seemed better than being stabbed so we let him take a few awkward photos of us sitting together.

The author, with his Valentine's Day Tinder date.

“OK, that’s enough we’d like to be alone now.”

After a few minutes, the strategic swooping stopped, and the theatre looked cleared out. I tried to figure out what was happening. My heart sank and my body went limp with abject horror when I realized that everyone had just drifted creepily to the back to watch us from behind. Leering in the darkness, feet behind us was a row of eyes fixated on the back of our heads. They darted back into the darkness when they saw me.

Suddenly, The Teacher’s Pet: Grade A was over. We made it to the other side. We looked at each other like, Yeah, let’s get the fuck out of here, and stood up to leave. On the way out, Laurent stopped us and tried to kiss Dominique. She dodged it expertly and we ran out into the lobby. We ran past Heather, the snacks, and the porno DVDs and went outside. We took a moment to catch our breath.

“Are you OK?” I asked.

“Can I have a hug?” She said.

“Yeah.” I needed one too. “Let’s never do that again.”

I looked around at the softly falling snow, people holding hands, and children jumping around and felt a wave of relief wash over me. Even the sketchiest looking guy on the street was fine, because I knew he didn’t want to cum on me. Nobody wanted to cum on me.

“Hey,” I said, “Do you want to like make pasta and drink wine at my house?”

“That’s the most romantic thing I’ve heard all day. Yes.”

After the dinner we went up to my room, and she ripped her clothes off. She undid my belt and fucked my brains out.

Afterwards we lay there on my pile of torn apart sheets, panting and looking up at the ceiling.

“What was today like for you?” I asked her.

“I felt uncomfortable the whole time,” she said. “But I knew it was never going to get that bad because you were there.”

“I kinda felt bad for bringing you into this, but you dealt with it all really well. Very well.”

“Happy Valentine's Day.”

“Yeah. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

@keefe_stephen